From the beginning of Me To You Box, sisters and co-founders Annyssa Cantor and Brianna Ricks have been dedicated to helping parents feel closer to their college students. They founded Me To You Box on the belief that one of the best ways to show you care is to give something special "just because." Over the years, this dynamic duo have helped countless loved ones remain close and connected from afar. In this special blog, Annyssa Cantor reveals her inspiration, passion and goals for Me To You Box.
What was your inspiration for starting Me To You Box?
My sister had this idea when her kids first went to college, but the sentiment of doing or giving “just because” was how our parents raised us. For us, it turned out to be those moments that truly were the most meaningful. Our parents modeled that idea of random acts of kindness.
What came after your original college care package idea?
When we first launched, we were purely a monthly subscription service, but people were calling and asking for premium packages. That's where the custom add-on idea came from. Next, it again was our customers who had younger kids going away to camp who hit us up to design a "camp-ready" care package. We honestly don't care what the reason is, but we want our consumers, both the giver and the receiver, to find joy through gifting or receiving a Me To You Box.
Your student might be homesick, feel under the weather, experience heartache or have a birthday... all great reasons to send a Me To You Box OR your reason can simply be “just because."
Over the years you've included so many different products in your boxes, but what products have been your favorite?
Right away, I think of the head massager by Kikkerland as the most unusual product we use. I wasn't really sure about it, but Brianna wanted to include it in one of the monthly boxes. I just really wasn't sure, but we did it and the kids loved it. We got so much feedback on it and it is still one of our top selling items!
We also get a lot of feedback about the blankets we include. Again, we got so much feedback when we first included it. I even remember a story from a customer who wrote that she sent it to her daughter who loved it so much, but the complaint was from the daughter's husband, who hated that it "came between them" all the time! Mostly I love that people feel connected by these gifts and they become important enough for them to tell stories about. That feels meaningful to me!
Why do parents source care packages through Me To You Box?
In the beginning, clients explained that they truly want to do something special for their kids, but they were concerned because their child was a "picky eater." So, we realized that there was a HUGE misconception about the fact that we are not a snack box based care package.
People are used to sending cookies or junk food. We know from client feedback that parents don't truly want that AND kids don't really want that either. Instead, we create care packages with maybe some small snack, but fill it with thoughtful items that fit their life, their current situation or an acknowledgment of the kind of lifestyle they have. That is why we have spa or technology, get well or final exam themes and more. We really focus on the "care" in "care package."
Interestingly, many people start out thinking that it might be cheaper to source these care packages on their own. Parents quickly realize that it costs them less to do a monthly box than to source on their own and send it out. Truthfully, we carefully curate what goes into each box and that kind of time is just not really possible if you are sending one box. In fact, most parents realize that in the end, they pay more to get junk food and "filler items," than to pay us to curate a box fit for the personality or preferences of their child.
What's the most interesting feedback you've received?
My favorite feedback comes from students. They gush about the feeling of excitement they get from getting that tell-tale ticket in their college mailbox saying they have a package waiting for them to pick up. That anticipation is a huge part of truly feeling that you are cared for. When the package they receive lives up to the hype, it's truly a meaningful connection we've made between the giver to the receiver.
My favorite story from a gift-giving parent is from one who currently has two girls in school. They always have a "virtual box opening," meaning that when the girls get their gifts they wait to open them until they have their mom on Facetime. The intimacy that creates and the love that is shared is why I do this job.
Why do you donate a portion of your profits to Julia's Butterfly Foundation?This non-profit is local to me. It's a foundation that provides tangible help for families in need. They work with hospitals and social workers to identify people in the community who need extra help because of a terminal illness in the family. Whether they contribute to pay an electrical bill or to install a ramp for a wheelchair, they are helping people in ways you don't typically think of that truly helps families. I am connected to people on this board and think highly of the work they are doing. Our mission at Me To You Box is to stoke connection and Julia's Butterfly Foundation does that in their own unique way, so I think it is a perfect fit! We're proud to do our small part to help others.